From George Mckray (captward) Mon 2 Jan 12 00:33
My notes from the book: "We were all angry about it, and scared, but in a way it made the tango more...intense. Because it was at risk. That was when I really came to understand tango for the first time. The music is full of despair and yet you dance to it. To me that says everything." "Once you see yourself in your enemy, you're lost." "The point is that even as our bodies show this incredible ability to heal, we can't keep up neurologically. Human beings are far more sensitive than we give ourselves credit for and violence does much more damage than we want to admit. It fosters more violence and numbs us to the effects, which fosters more violence yet. It's a disease, and it's contagious." Enjoyed your novel although it could lead some to believe that torture is a prerequisite to dancing the "true" tango. Sure is a rabbit-hole that can swallow you up. It's like playing chess with the musicians and the music, your partner and the others dancing, the present moment and the imagined tango in your mind. BsAs is a marvelous city. The Argentine reaction to "The Crisis" has many lessons for people around the world. Lots of self-organizing to rebuild an economy that was destroyed.
Lewis Shiner (lewis-shiner) Mon 2 Jan 12 06:10
@angus It is, in fact, all my short fiction except the collaborations (which I'll get to eventually) and one story I wrote on a bet with Joe Lansdale that really doesn't need to be seen again. (I bet him that it was too stupid an idea to be published; I lost.) It's impossible to know for sure whether the free downloads hurt. When Bill Schafer (of Subterranean) and I first decided to do it, the evidence indicated that free downloads increased sales--people would read for a while on-line, but not want to read an entire novel sitting at their computers. This was of course pre-iPad and before the Kindle et al. really caught on. I should probably put up a link to let people donate a buck or two when they download a novel, strictly honor system. Maybe I'll do that this year. @captward 'it could lead some to believe that torture is a prerequisite to dancing the "true" tango.' You mean it isn't? Good point about BsAs. Maybe the most interesting self-organization is the way the city handles recycling. (George, you obviously know a lot about this, so feel free to chime in with corrections or updates--I got most of this from hearsay.) There are no domestic trash cans in BsAs--people put their garbage in plastic bags on the sidewalk outside their doors. Post-Crisis, the poor and homeless began going through the garbage and taking out anything they could recycle and carrying it down to the recycling center to sell. The word for cardboard is "cartón," so these recyclers became known as "cartoneros." Over the years this got more and more organized until there was a kind of mafia that controlled it--you would see them late at night, pushing long lines of stolen grocery carts full of cardboard and plastic and cans. There were skirmishes over turf, and eventually the weakest got squeezed out. Various corporations saw that this was actually profitable and tried to get the government to let them chase the cartoneros off and take over, but as far as I know the government has held the line and let the street people stay in control.
Lewis Shiner (lewis-shiner) Mon 2 Jan 12 06:13
And Happy New Year to all!
David Wilson (dlwilson) Mon 2 Jan 12 06:51
I've always been fascinated with Buenos Aires as a city even though I've never been there. I got it from novels--Roberto Arlt, Borges, and Cortizar which gives you a taste for the immigrant metropole. Then there is the music, films, and the HBO series Epitifios. Everyone writes about how Buenos Aires resembles Paris. But I have to think that the "feel" is much more like New York, albeit a more Italian dominated place than one with a Jewish overcast. In New York, the rhythm of life has been captured in jazz and expressed that way in films, novels, and TV. When you go into the outer boroughs it becomes more rock n'roll/r&b, salsa, and hiphop. So I take tango as a given for providing that backdrop to the pace of things. Does this match your experience?
for dixie southern iraq (stet) Mon 2 Jan 12 07:11
A chance to repeat the old description: an Argentine is an Italian speaking Spanish who thinks he's English.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Mon 2 Jan 12 09:59
There's a big colony of Canadian expats there that expands during our winter as their friends all come down for vacations.
Lewis Shiner (lewis-shiner) Mon 2 Jan 12 10:15
"Paris with palm trees" was the shorthand I'd heard, and while that makes it sound more tropical than it really is (the climate is pretty similar to that here in North Carolina), it's a pretty good description. I find the architecture in general more reminiscent of Paris than of New York, though the microcentro (central business district) does look a lot like the less glamorous parts of midtown Manhattan. Maybe the flowers and potted plants everywhere are part of what gives it the European feel. True about the Canadian expats--the first couple of visits, we rented a room in a flat owned by French Canadians. That was a bit of strain on my brain--speaking Spanish in the street and French in the apartment.
Angus MacDonald (angus) Mon 2 Jan 12 14:08
Yikes. With respect to the recycling, does the non-recyclable stuff just get left in the bags, and does some entity gather that for landfill or centralized compost?
From George Mokray (captward) Mon 2 Jan 12 16:13
The cartoneros are one story and a still ongoing, complicated one at that. I was thinking more about the workers who took over their own closed factories during the crisis and rebuilt the businesses as cooperatives. Saw one documentary on some of the examples and know a former US union organizer who studied how it was done. From Wikipedia: "Throughout the 1990s in Argentina's southern province of Neuquén, drastic economic and political events occurred where the citizens ultimately rose up. Although the first shift occurred in a single factory, bosses were progressively fired throughout the province so that by 2005 the workers of the province controlled most of the factories. "In the wake of the 2001 economic crisis, about 200 Argentine companies were 'recovered' by their workers and turned into co-operatives. Prominent examples include the Brukman factory, the Hotel Bauen and FaSinPat(formerly known as Zanon). As of 2005, about 15,000 Argentine workers run recovered factories." Been to BsAs only once a few years ago and danced my clumsy tango at El Beso and Confiteria Ideal. The scale of the city is mostly around six stories or so although the newer section around Puerto Madero looks to be "modern" jewel box high rises and smells of money, new money, at least from a distance. I didn't explore there in the short time I had. Recently read a short biography of Carlos Gavito, that elegant dancer, and found a lot there to help with how to dance [_I Wanted to Dance: Carlos Gavito: Life, passion and tango_ by Ricardo Plazaola Stuttgart, Germany: Abrazos, 2010 ISBN 978-987-24481-7-2]. Now I have to go to a practica and test out the possibilities. I am happy to share my notes if anyone's interested. PS: The family name is Mokray not McKray.
Lewis Shiner (lewis-shiner) Tue 3 Jan 12 16:27
@captward Yes, those recovered factories are a great example of rebuilding the system from the ground level. I have a friend who was in BsAs with a company that made low interest "microloans" to groups of workers who were doing that kind of recovery--a worthy cause. He is now back in the States doing a similar business, though the groups here tend to be service oriented (of course, since we don't make anything in the US anymore). Like worker owned cleaning services. @angus Yes, there is regular garbage pickup--the cartoneros generally put everything they don't want back in the original bags and leave it for the trash collectors.
Angus MacDonald (angus) Wed 4 Jan 12 14:01
Looping back to tango: Is the music something that's enjoyable for listening, even if one isn't dancing? Are there recordings you'd recommend to a novice?
Lewis Shiner (lewis-shiner) Wed 4 Jan 12 18:04
I'm going to take the easy way out on this one, and link to one of the posts I did during my blog tour for the book: http://beatrice.com/wordpress/2011/09/07/lewis-shiner-guest-author/ This goes into the musical side of tango extensively, with some recommendations. That said, I have to confess that I don't love tango music as much as my protagonist does. (I don't know why I feel guilty saying that, but I do.) I like it well enough, mind you, but I have friends who went completely nuts when they discovered it and want to listen to nothing else--in the car, in the kitchen, on headphones at work. That's how I felt (and still feel) about salsa, but tango never completely stole my heart in the same way. Which is one of the reasons that tango comes in third on my list of favorite dances, after salsa and Lindy Hop.
Lewis Shiner (lewis-shiner) Wed 4 Jan 12 18:06
For those who might be interested, here are links to all five of the blog posts I did on my "tour," plus an interview: http://www.lewisshiner.com/dt_blog_tour.html
David Wilson (dlwilson) Wed 4 Jan 12 18:25
I know several Argentine people who are not enamored with tango at all. The music was almost moriband until Piazzolla came along. You can listen to him as straight up tango or as art music. One of my favorites is Horacio Salgan the Afro-Argentine piano player. His duets with electric guitarist Umbaldo DeLio are wonderful miminalist pieces. Plus I love to watch DeLio's droopy eyes and beagle hang dog expression while playing. <http://www.allmusic.com/album/tango-vol-1-r202883> <http://www.allmusic.com/album/mano-brava-r687597>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 4 Jan 12 22:14
A new Inkwell conversation is starting, but this one doesn't have to end. We want to thank Lew and Angus for the verbal tango! And we encourage you all to download Dark Tangos, read a few pages, then buy a hardcopy!
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